MINNEAPOLIS — Even as the season winds down, getting Byron Buxton back on the field remains a top priority for the Twins. After normal rest and recovery tactics didn’t calm the inflammation in Buxton’s right knee, the club opted to give him a cortisone shot on Sunday.
As uncertain as it seems, the Twins’ training staff at least believes Buxton will soon be in position to resume his rehab assignment at Triple-A St. Paul and then return to the Twins. When he’d return is unclear, but Twins athletic trainer Nick Paparesta said Wednesday the impression he has is Buxton will play again this season.
“Things are moving in the right direction,” Paparesta said. “We need to make sure that’s cleared up and he feels strong and confident in that before we get rolling ahead. We do know what happened. We do know what it is. We’ve addressed it with a cortisone injection. Conservative treatment, as you know, for that week or so wasn’t really getting the job done, so we needed to kind of take it to that next level.”
Buxton went on the injured list on Aug. 2 with a right hamstring strain. The Twins took a big-picture approach to his recovery, hoping to take their time in order for him to build up and return to the roster as a designated hitter and an outfielder.
#MNTwins athletic trainer Nick Paparesta on Byron Buxton: “I’d love to tell you I have a crystal ball and can give you that answer, but my impression will be that he’s going to play again this year and he’ll be healthy and play next year, yes.”
— DanHayesMLB (@DanHayesMLB) September 13, 2023
Two games into his rehab, Buxton exited the contest with right patellar tendinitis. While an MRI showed the tendinitis “looks better,” Buxton is dealing with inflammation, Paparesta said.
“It came on out of nowhere,” Paparesta said. “Really didn’t bother him very much prior to going out there. Kind of actually felt it when he was in the outfield during that outing. … We’re going to start some rotational stuff (Thursday). I’ll have a better idea, probably, after the Chicago (White Sox) series, where we’re at in regards to what his activity level is and stuff.”
With the clock winding down, the Twins know they don’t have much time to get Buxton into game action. The Triple-A St. Paul regular season ends Sept. 24, though the Saints currently sit in first place in the International League West division. If St. Paul makes the playoffs, Buxton would have ample time to prepare for a major-league postseason that begins Oct. 3.
Knowing what Buxton can bring to the Twins if he’s healthy and able to play center field, which Paparesta estimates he would, the player and club opted to take the more aggressive treatment route now.
“We’re going to make it happen in the context of us being able to get him at-bats and get him prepared to play,” Paparesta said. “My impression is for him to be able to play wherever he needs to be able to play for this team.”
Miranda to undergo surgery
Jose Miranda’s season will officially end Thursday when he undergoes surgery, though the Twins haven’t announced what procedure he’s having.
Paparesta said Miranda, who battled shoulder issues starting in spring training and last played on July 9, was in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday for a pre-surgical consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Dugas.
A key performer a season ago, Miranda batted just .211/.263/.303 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 152 plate appearances this season.
Taylor’s return nearing
Michael A. Taylor’s successful workout before Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays means the center fielder is another step closer to returning. Placed on the 10-day injured list on Sept. 3 with a right hamstring strain, Taylor missed his ninth game on Wednesday.
“We do believe he’s going to be activated on this road trip,” Paparesta said. “Ran the bases (Wednesday). We’ll see how he bounces back (Thursday). Get him in the outfield. Get some shagging activities.”
Jax stung again late in 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay
A valiant Twins comeback was undone by an offense that went silent late and Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena’s ninth-inning home run off Twins reliever Griffin Jax.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 13, 2023
After falling behind by four runs, the Twins rallied to tie the score in the fifth inning. Fourth-inning solo homers by Matt Wallner and Kyle Farmer and a two-out, two-run triple by Max Kepler in the fifth helped the Twins even the score at 4-4.
But Tampa Bay’s bullpen stopped the Twins cold, providing four scoreless innings to finish the contest. Arozarena made the effort matter by blasting a 3-2 slider an estimated 448 feet for the go-ahead homer.
“It’s a pitch that we would want the pitch back, not just because of the result of the pitch,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He made a lot of good pitches in that inning. He looked good visually, and sometimes, in a one-run game, that’s really all it comes down to. It comes down to their guy put a real good swing on the ball, hit it on the barrel. It defines the game sometimes.”
Bailey Ober is expected to take the open spot in the Twins’ rotation on Friday. The team currently has no starter listed for the second of four games against the Chicago White Sox. Before the game, Baldelli said he wanted to push back all his starting pitchers to give them an extra day of rest. … Joey Gallo ran on the field on Wednesday for the second straight day. He could join Brock Stewart, Nick Gordon, Jorge Alcalá and Buxton on a rehab assignment at St. Paul soon, Paparesta said. … Baldelli intentionally stayed away from using Carlos Correa in a pinch-hitting spot in the ninth inning. With a huge lead in the division, Baldelli suggested other regulars could get days off if they “could make it work.” … The Twins will begin selling entire playoff ticket strips at 10 a.m. CT on Sept. 18.
(Photo of Buxton: David Berding / Getty Images)